Imperfect Cinema, Brecht, and The Adventures of Juan Quin Quin

by Anna Marie Taylor
 — with the collaboration of Julianne Burton, John Hess, Chuck Kleinhans, Julia Lesage, and B. Ruby Rich

from Jump Cut, no. 20, 1979, pp. 26-29
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1979, 2005

Despite the increasing availability of Third World films in the United States, the theory behind revolutionary filmmaking is relatively unfamiliar. In reference to Latin American cinema, the expression, "Imperfect Cinema," is usually understood to mean certain films that have a rough, unfinished quality as opposed to the dominant forms of European and Hollywood cinema. It generally implies that the former films communicate a more direct social and political statement than is customary in film language. It evokes the image of films that have a rugged, grainy appearance due to the use of low-quality film stock and a documentary shooting style. Imperfect Cinema further suggests such characteristics as crude shot and sequence transitions, or naturalistic representations of the violence of everyday life.

The most formal statement about Imperfect Cinema in Latin American filmmaking occurs in the writing of Cuban director Julio García Espinosa. His essay, "For an Imperfect Cinema," written in December 1969, first appeared in English in a special issue of Afterimage on Third World cinema (No. 3, Summer 1971). A reexamination of García Espinosa's theoretical ideas about revolutionary cinema suggested itself in the context of Tricontinental Film Center's recent distribution in the United States of García Espinosa's feature film, THE ADVENTURES OF JUAN QUIN QUIN (1967). While the ideas expressed theoretically in the director's essay do not give a blueprint for filmmaking, THE ADVENTURES OF JUAN QUIN QUIN, made by García Espinosa just two years before the essay's publication, can be seen in retrospect to have initiated the kind of filmmaking practice which he was later to elaborate in other films and in the theoretical ideas of "For an Imperfect Cinema." (Those of us who have seen his subsequent film made in 1971, THIRD WORLD — THIRD WORLD WAR, on the topic of Vietnam, contend that it relates more directly to the thesis of his essay. However, since that film has never been seen in the United States, it is less relevant to North American readers than a consideration of JUAN QUIN QUIN, the only García Espinosa feature now in distribution here.)

García Espinosa, who studied directing at the Centro Sperimentale in Rome, was one of the few Cubans with formal film training at the time the Cuban government established ICAIC (Instituto de Arte y Industria Cinematográfica) as one of the first cultural institutions of the Revolution. He directed some of the first films produced by ICAIC: two short documentaries, SIXTH ANNIVERSARY and HOUSING in 1959, and the first feature film, CUBA DANCES, in 1960. His early and adamant aversion to the mechanical imitation of foreign models in the making of revolutionary films became one of the major polemical issues in "For an Imperfect Cinema."


García Espinosa's essay develops the idea that revolutionary cinema must be imperfect, and the term as he uses it in the essay takes on a variety of connotations. By way of providing the historical context of García Espinosa's use of this term, it should be noted that the idea of "imperfect" or "incomplete" and similar phrases were commonly used in Cuba following the Revolution, especially with reference to the concept of a "new person under socialism." Che Guevara, who often referred to the formation of an hombre nuevo (new man), defined the role of the individual in the building of socialism as an unfinished process:

"I believe that the simplest approach is to recognize his [sic] unmade quality; he [sic] is an unfinished product. The flaws of the past are translated into the present in the individual consciousness …" (1)

Thus, García Espinosa's principle of Imperfect Cinema may be seen as a specifically cinematic manifestation of the idea of unfinished or imperfect aspects of society as these appeared in Cuban writing about the Revolution during the sixties.

García Espinosa is primarily interested in how art, and film in particular, can become non-elitist. Imperfect Cinema, according to his definition, is first of all "committed." He rejects the idea that any kind of art can be purely "aesthetic," or removed from the struggle to transform class society. Latin American filmmakers who imitate the European model of technical and artistic "perfection" in a finished work are accordingly following a false standard of quality that betrays their otherwise authentic political and creative directions. As opposed to "showing results" which "illustrate aesthetically ideas and concepts which we already know, works of Imperfect Cinema must instead show process."

When García Espinosa contrasts "analysis" with "process," he is not rejecting political theory or the social sciences, which he explicitly calls to bear on the production of Imperfect Cinema. Rather he rejects a kind of pre-digested analysis, which assumes that people cannot create meaning for themselves, and which presents only the results of an investigation without looking either at the position of the investigator (here, the position of the filmmaker and the institution of cinema itself) or the process by which the conclusions presented are arrived at. While García Espinosa does not give examples, one might recognize the beginning of such "process" in THE ADVENTURES OF JUAN QUIN QUIN, where he examines the literary and cinematic genres that contributed to the development in Cuba of a colonized culture. The ideology implicit in the use of these genres tended to reinforce media consumption patterns emanating from the U.S. and Europe rather than to encourage Cuban artists to develop autonomous cultural forms.

The second most important criterion for Imperfect Cinema is that it involve the spectator as creator, with the possibility for the eventual elimination of minority art altogether. In a revolutionary culture, everybody will share technical skills and creative impetus. The model for this potential democratization of art, according to García Espinosa, can already be found in popular or folk arts, [2] where "the creators are at the same time spectators and vice versa." Instead of art primarily manifesting itself as "a personal type of self-realization … popular art takes the form of another life activity." "Imperfection" thus means a recuperation of that characteristic of folk art by which the interaction between spectators and participants eliminates the elitist distinction between creator and audience, which distinction García Espinosa identifies with the European tradition of high culture. He criticizes the process by which Latin American films tend to gain prestige and recognition by fulfilling traditional elitist criteria. Only "the definitive disappearance of the rigid division of labor of a society divided into classes and sectors" can end the monopoly of art by minority groups, including filmmakers, and unleash the processes by which the cinema can become a popular, non-elitist, participatory form of culture.

In both the theoretical essay and the film, García Espinosa leaves untouched the important problems raised by the difference between spectator participation in the production of live performance — such as the theatre or circus — and spectator "participation" in relation to film. If one discounts the possible conclusion that returning to the popular tradition of spectacle is an alternative to technological media, the essay and the film fail to solve the problems they emphasize about the desirability of non-elite production. This failure, in turn, leads to a certain romanticization of popular spectacle, which is also left unanalyzed.


An enormous compendium of different Cuban cultural elements is brought together in the making of THE ADVENTURES OF JUAN QUIN QUIN. The film draws upon literary tradition as well as upon modern mass media conventions. It includes some sequences derived directly from Cuban popular culture, particularly village cultural life prior to the Revolution. Emphasis, however, remains on parodying cinematic representations. The title originally belonged to a novel, Juan Quin Quin in Pueblo Mocho by Samuel Feijoo, and the novelistic conventions are among the first to be reproduced and satirized in the film. Floral framing of the written titles separates the film into different sections: "Juan Quin Quin in Peacetime," "How Juan Quin Quin Met Teresa," etc. The character of Juan repeats in yet another version: the centuries-old, rebellious, antihero of Spanish popular culture who came into written literature in the sixteenth century. This picaresque tradition has had a long and vital presence in Hispanic novels and films. In typical picaresque manner, Juan, a man of very modest means, is subject to oppressive masters for whom he must work in order to survive — first, the priest, and later, the landlord and sugarmill manager who cheat him of the fruits of his labor.

Although the film is divided into episodic adventures, it is possible to reconstruct a linear narrative, tracing a series of unjust experiences throughout Juan's life which lead him finally to go to the Sierra and become a guerrilla leader, albeit a bungling one. Although certain sequences tempt the viewer to look for a narrative chronology, changes in setting constantly divert and interrupt narrative continuity.

In typically picaresque style, Juan's adventures in fact turn out to be primarily escapades through different cinematic genres, as one parody follows another. What passes successively across the screen would be most familiar to anyone going to movie theaters and watching television in the forties and fifties in Cuba — or elsewhere, for that matter. Among the series of parodies are these:

  • the introduction and credits, straight out of cinemascope Westerns;
  • Fellini-like, outdoor circus sequences, including one which recalls the lion episode from Don Quixote;
  • South-Seas-Esther-Williams-style setups involving exotic women from the circus;
  • Hollywood war films of the fifties;
  • Buster-Keaton-style episodes;
  • Hollywood detective films,
  • James-Bond-style, complete with wealthy oriental villains;
  • Hollywood musical scenes mixed with those where the boss is an oriental despot;
  • gangster-style chase sequences through industrial machinery.

The elaborate inappropriateness of the parodies in JUAN QUIN QUIN succeeds in effectively calling attention to the artificiality and formulaic quality of the cinematic codes at work in each case. Several specific kinds of intervention contribute to this process:

  • exaggeration of satirical effects
  • abrupt changes of pace and setting;
  • incongruities between the soundtrack and image;
  • explicit editorial comment, such as, "Here we could insert a scene about the Latin American family or a U.N. meeting";
  • fracturing narrative expectations, as when an old woman, seen pacing and filmed in a neorealist style, exits the frame and is replaced by an exotic circus woman shot in a highly romanticized style;
  • repetition of sequences of the same subject filmed in alternating styles;
  • intervention of characters of one genre into the conventions of another genre, seen when Juan interrupts the boss's Dr.-No-style Zen meditation lesson to protest brutal working conditions;
  • authentic Cuban folk culture juxtaposed against imported or technologized culture.

In one of the sequences when the film comments on its own satirical project, the posture of the landowner in his chair suggests to Juan and his friend Dealer that he's watching television. We as spectators thus are reminded that we are all simultaneously watching strangely transformed reruns of pre-Revolutionary, and to a certain degree, post-Revolutionary films on Cuban TV.

The film also draws upon Cuban popular culture in important ways, specifically in its attempt to use the vitality and lack of inhibition on the part of Cuban rural audiences at popular spectacles such as the cockfights and local circus. (3) Juan's circus trick is to stay buried underground for nine minutes. When the town authorities demand more exciting acts and thus throw off the planned succession of stunts, near disaster occurs. The mayor supports the demand for something better, and the master of ceremonies brings on a scantily clad woman trapeze artist who performs on a hanging rope. Several women in the stands get concerned with Juan's welfare, go into the ring, and proceed to dig up the "grave," saving Juan just in time. Thus, the onlookers turn into participants. The audience participates in other ways: improvised equipment is brought in by a member of the audience for a stunt, and children can be seen sneaking into the tent.

There is some fine religious satire in the circus sequences after Teresa, one of the members of the audience, falls in love with Juan in his role as Christ on the cross. Some of the most humorous incidents in the film occur here, as Juan, still "nailed" to the cross, announces the times of the next show. When Teresa's father objects to her romance, she protests, "But he's God!" While some of these representations are delightfully comic, and reveal the existence of a deep feeling of communality on the part of the audience, the relation between spectacle and audience as participants and creators remains problematic. One can deduce that there is an attempt here to prefigure, by borrowing from Cuban popular culture, that desired kind of non-elite audience participation and elimination of creator-audience dichotomy that García Espinosa describes in "For an Imperfect Cinema." It is clear, however, that despite experiments here with popular participation, the audience nevertheless still intervenes primarily as spectators. That is, both the film audience and the spectators portrayed within the film inevitably go back to their seats, to a static place as onlookers. There appears to be no way out of this contradiction. Audience participation is "shown" on film and thus becomes another representation seen by yet another passive audience.

Distanciation effects used in the film's long series of adventures require the viewer to be constantly aware of cinematic illusion as patterned convention. In line with García Espinosa's theoretical interest in transforming spectators into participants, the two protagonists, Juan and his companion Dealer, originally two types drawn from popular culture, are used anomalously in the film as actors in different genres. This device serves to demystify a kind of formal unity and illusion of reality, which would be characteristic of each of the various genres and spectacles if any one of these were the single artistic principle shaping the film. When these genres and other cinematic conventions are switched around and juxtaposed in unusual ways, the assumed or desired effect is that the audience, which is ordinarily passive, will actively participate in putting together the pieces. They are to be active in considering the ideological implications of highly encoded cinematic genres from which they as viewers formerly had no critical distance. This should happen if narrative film makes accustomed forms seem "unnatural," thereby breaking the viewers' identification with the characters and flow of events.

JUAN QUIN QUIN's success here is ambiguous. Resourcefulness in creating alienation effects does not necessarily amount to revolutionary cinema. The film itself, in reproducing past types of cultural spectacles, also reproduces that past kind of experience. In the way that it does this, the film almost posits a kind of psychoanalytic method of "reliving" or re-seeing the past as its aesthetic method; it reduplicates the past as it proceeds. García Espinosa seems to need to work through Cuba's cultural past, particularly its cinematic legacy, before arriving at a position where a more revolutionary cinema can begin. It is in this sense that JUAN QUIN QUIN contributes most to the trajectory of contemporary Cuban film.

However, the cinematic satire has a contradictory effect, a kind of effect apparently not considered in the making of JUAN QUIN QUIN. A satiric political film about culture paradoxically makes evident how much generic structures maintain themselves intact and resist deconstruction. A repressive Cuban landowner transformed into an oriental cinematic villain, or Juan Quin Quin as a guerrilla à la Howard Hawks, may serve as unexpected representations that interfere with audience expectations and identification but may also result in confusion. If the viewer notes something unusual in the film's use of genre conventions but does not understand the meaning of this new effect, some of the very "processes" that García Espinosa maintains must be exposed have not been conveyed. Satiric political filmmakers face the danger of producing yet another film using the interrelated elements of a genre rather than revealing generic and cinematic processes. Here, the women are still dressed and act as exploited sex objects. García Espinosa's intent to satirize such roles cannot compensate for his more-or-less straight reproduction of these sexist codes. Other important Hollywood elements also remain intact. These include the handsome hero, beautiful heroine, and excitement of adventure, and each element in its own way reiterates macho norms in Cuba that glorify danger, violence, and sexual conquest.

In another essay, García Espinosa claimed that in JUAN QUIN QUIN he wanted to avoid the problems inherent in portraying a "positive," "serious" hero and thus preferred casting Juan in a comic role.[4] But Juan's handsome demeanor and cool, understated, Hollywood-style acting, à la Robert Mitchum, hardly confront, let alone undercut, the fact that audience identification, even with a comic hero, can work strongly to undermine their political, critical response to satire. Furthermore, despite the great number of distanciation techniques at work here, none effectively breaks through the "cult of the sequence shot," a cult that promotes a kind of cinematic "realism" or continuity and that has been the target of much recent writing about political cinema. (5) While no narrative storyline defines the film as a whole, one can nevertheless identify within sequences a gravitation toward narrative closure; and this tendency towards closure frequently sets up a tension that interferes with or overrides the satirical intent.

JUAN QUIN QUIN also fails to keep satire from annexing what were apparently meant to be politically serious sequences. (6) Cases in point are the hanging of Dealer for his political resistance activities and the enactment of the two guerrilla raids, one as an intelligent plan and the other as a cinematic farce. The hanging occurs within the context of a filmic adaptation of notorious foto-novelas, comic-book love stories widely read throughout Latin America. Dealer's death could signify violent political reality intervening in a romantic and socially reactionary genre. Yet distanciation here is carried to such a degree that the viewer does not get sufficient information to work with to be able to engage the film's ideas and formal innovations intellectually and politically. The fast and abrupt pacing of these sections, the uneven shifting back and forth between genre stereotypes and the just-mentioned intervention do combine to produce an impact, but one that is confusing and difficult to digest or assess. A general problem seems to lie with the extremely varied pacing used in the editing. While such differences in tempo can be an important tool for achieving distanciation effects, their overuse in JUAN QUIN QUIN tends to disrupt rather than further the satirical aspect of the film.


Julio García Espinosa shares certain political and aesthetic positions with Bertolt Brecht, especially as elaborated in Brecht's dramatic theory. The very word "imperfect" echoes Brecht's thesis that narrative closure and emotional catharsis must be avoided, in order to leave spectators room for disinterested contemplation and drawing their own political conclusions. In this sense, both Brecht and García Espinosa advocate a new and vital kind of politicized audience, and that actors create what it is the play (here, the film) communicates and that theatrical performances divide audiences along class lines, that is, lead spectators to revolutionary political activism. García Espinosa speaks of Imperfect Cinema as committed "class" cinema. It is what is needed when a country or militants are on the road to communism, when the class struggle is still going on, when not everyone can yet create their own films, and when there is still a division between the forced aspect of work and the freedom of creativity. In film production, García Espinosa wants to reduce crews and specialization and hierarchization. To him, communism ultimately means technological development and cultural awareness at a high enough level so that average people are making their own films, that they are the producers of all art, and that "filmmaker" or "artist" as profession would disappear.

To demystify the ideology of art as a self-enclosed entity or cathartic experience, Brecht insisted that an artistic production should reveal its own processes of production. In this regard, although the film does include a few self-conscious interventions, JUAN QUIN QUIN is not as Brechtian as García Espinosa's later film, THIRD WORLD — THIRD WORLD WAR, or GIRON.

Furthermore, at the same time that political art should be self-reflexive, as Brecht asserted,

"There is such a thing as pleasurable learning, cheerful and militant learning … Insofar as it is good theater, it will amuse." (7)

García Espinosa also writes that revolutionary cinema must be "popular," that it entertain in order to reach large sectors of the entire population. In both their theoretical writings and in their artistic practice, García Espinosa and Brecht firmly promote entertainment as a political and aesthetic principle in a way which current avant-garde models of "Brechtian" cinema in fact often seem to eschew. (8)

For Brecht, the spectator is

"no longer a simple consumer. He/She must also produce." (9)

Without active participation on the audience's part, the art work is, for Brecht, incomplete. And if it offers a complete emotional experience or message, it will not be sufficient for people's needs intellectually or politically. Both Brecht and García Espinosa use the concept "imperfect" in a positive way. Desired audience participation has to be reached both through people's analytical distance from the representation and from their resulting political action. Brecht reverses conventional standards of artistic perfection. If a film or play succeeds politically in this way with its audience, it is necessarily and desirably "imperfect" by existing standards of artistic value. As Brecht saw it, "imperfect" art is a result rather than a goal of revolutionary practice.

A divergence between Brecht's theories and "For an Imperfect Cinema" comes from García Espinosa's insistence that a priori conclusions not be made the basis for an analysis nor promulgated by the content of a film. In contrast, Brecht emphasizes analysis and the capacity to analyze as very important outcomes of experiencing political art. In criticizing analysis, García Espinosa writes,

"To analyze a problem is to show it not in process but in a way impregnated with judgments which the analysis itself generates, a priori …"

A more desirable method would be "to submit" a problem to "judgments without pronouncing the verdict." Showing "process," according to García Espinosa's own definition of Imperfect Cinema, should be similar to raising consciousness by "showing the development of the news without comment." Perhaps this approach to cinema is most "radical" in terms of documentary filmmaking, and García Espinosa most effectively illustrated it in his documentary on Vietnam, THIRD WORLD — THIRD WORLD WAR. In terms of fictional filmmaking, his theory supports irony and implicitness as consciousness raising mechanisms in opposition to explicit political statement. JUAN QUIN QUIN, as a fictional example of a way of showing "process," transforms the familiar by using distancing techniques and successive chapter-like episodes. Beyond that, the film avoids providing any explicit political understanding of what is going on, other than to make the viewer aware that genres are composed of contrived conventions and cannot be interpreted as "reality" or as a naturalized flow of circumstances.

While "For an Imperfect Cinema" is critical of derivation, in JUAN QUIN QUIN, García Espinosa has not yet attempted to experiment in new directions. Instead, he uses familiar genre conventions to undermine the ideology of those genres through parody and distancing effects. We can conclude that criticizing derivation in "For an Imperfect Cinema" does not exclude borrowing cinematic styles and conventions, as long as the latter are exposed. The political use of derivation involves seeing it as a tool of cultural decolonization; it lets people see things they have long enjoyed but see them in a new way. (10) The contradiction in using derivation as an artistic tactic in JUAN QUIN QUIN becomes evident as one sees the film: To what extent can you destroy old forms by using them, even though they are reenacted satirically? One of the inherent problems with many such satiric approaches is that they make possible only a partial and often confusing exposition of the mechanisms of ideology. And they usually ignore the extent to which ideology is inscribed in artistic forms themselves. While this contradiction has been established and explored in theater by Brecht and in film by Godard (often working politically with co-directors since 1968), García Espinosa in JUAN QUIN QUIN still finds it useful, given the post-revolutionary Cuban context, to work within and experiment with traditional cinematic forms. (11)

There is a logic to Brecht's strict requirement that political messages be clear. Ultimately even sympathetic viewers of the film feel the confusion and vagueness resulting from JUAN QUIN QUIN's primary dependence upon irony to achieve its distancing effects. It is worth noting in this context that, in placing importance on showing "processes which generate the problems" and opposing "analysis," García Espinosa does not sufficiently emphasize social class as an issue in the content of the film and in the perspective shaping the film's structure.

It can be argued that he has a revolutionary optimism about the political development of the masses and feels that they are quite capable of creating political meaning out of art for themselves. Yet his position as stated seems to set his theory of Imperfect Cinema in opposition to other revolutionary aesthetics — since the capacity on the part of the audience to make a class analysis as a result of distanciation effects, and the creator's awareness of the kind of class analysis underlying her/his work is essentia l to Brechtian aesthetics and to any predominantly Marxist theory of art("For Whom? Against Whom?" challenges a title à la Mao Tse Tung in Godard and Gorin's WIND FROM THE EAST).

It is apparent that the root of this contradiction is to be found in the different historical conditions motivating the two sets of theories. The Brechtian and militant Latin American theories were devised within an oppressed, pre-revolutionary (in fact, fascist) context; the Cubans are working within a post-revolutionary culture, itself continually in an evolutionary process. García Espinosa wrote "For an Imperfect Cinema" straddling two fences. He wanted to express the needs of and to influence all of militant Latin American filmmaking and thus was identifying with pre-revolutionary situations as well as the "imperfect" communism within his own country; he was looking at the similarities between the two kinds of situations and not making a strict separation between them. Thus, "For an Imperfect Cinema" depends ultimately on a confidence in the revolutionary wisdom of the politicized masses. It has what we might perceive of as a "populist" view of mass participation in culture. García Espinosa makes this "populism" explicit when he writes elsewhere about the role of the documentary film in Cuba today:

"We do not need to create a public to the measure of our wishes; it is rather the public of today which needs filmmakers to the measure of their wishes." (12)

The expression Imperfect Cinema is most likely to continue being used in the loose, vernacular way described at the beginning of this article. Its formal theoretical premises as stated in "For an Imperfect Cinema" belong to a particular stage in the history of Cuban filmmaking and cultural theory. They speak to the imperative of developing a new kind of Latin American cinema which will be less derivative, less elitist and technologically exclusive, and more aggressively political in dealing with areas of cultural and ideological colonization. However, the narrative film THE ADVENTURES OF JUAN QUIN QUIN, as examined here, reveals the validity of the old arguments that Brecht and others have used against too much subtlety in political art.

While I have concluded that Imperfect Cinema does not provide a revolutionary "new poetics" in the way which García Espinosa has proposed, it is important to keep in mind that the priority after the Revolution placed on filmmaking in Cuba among all the areas of art, and the ambiance in ICAIC which has encouraged highly varied and experimental approaches toward revolutionary cinema, have provided an environment within which García Espinosa's particular notion of Imperfect Cinema can be developed and modified. It attempts a position somewhere between advocating direct political discourse in film, exemplified by the great documentary films of Santiago Alvarez, and following "foreign models," referring on the one hand to the European styles criticized by García Espinosa and on the other to the cinematic style now familiarly referred to as "classic Hollywood narrative." Imperfect Cinema stands as one theoretical direction put forward for Third World cinema.

However, JUAN QUIN QUIN does not enact the theory of Imperfect Cinema, as defined in García Espinosa's writing, as revolutionary practice. For that, one would have to look to García Espinosa's documentaries, THIRD WORLD — THIRD WORLD WAR, GIRON, and his newest film, on cabaret culture, which is still in workprint stage. However, it is in the context of Cuban filmmakers working with politically committed artists who are all striving together to find new cinematic means of expression to depict and promote revolutionary process that the effect of García Espinosa's theory can best be understood, not just in the context of one man's work.


1. "Man and Socialism in Cuba," in Venceremos! ed. John Gerassi (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969), p. 159.

2. García Espinosa does not distinguish between folk and popular, using them synonymously. He does, however, distinguish between mass art and popular art: popular here means made by the people for their own use; mass art, made by an elite for widespread dissemination among the less socially privileged.

3. In most of pre-revolutionary Cuba, the only form of entertainment or culture that would come to a town from the "outside" was the circus, and that parallels the role of movies in most provincial centers in Latin America today.

4. "A propósito de AVENTURAS DE JUAN QUIN QUIN," in Cine y revolucíon en Cuba, ed. Miguel Porter (Barcelona: Editorial Fontamara, 1975), p. 159.

5. See, for example, "Space and Narrative in the Films of Ozu," by Kirsten Thompson and David Bordwell, in Screen (Summer 1976), in which they contrast the use of spaces by Japanese filmmaker Ozu Yasujiro with the narrative conventions of "classical Hollywood cinema." The narrowness of a merely formalist analysis that ignores other ideological aspects of Ozu's work is challenged by Marc Holthof, Jump Cut 18.

6. García Espinosa recognized this difficulty, but he did not finally escape it in the making of JUAN QUIN QUIN: "… one of the problems that we had in fact was that of treating ironically some typical features of the adventure film without it leading us to satirize our own reality." Porter, trans. Taylor, p. 159.

7. Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theater, ed. John Willett (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964), p. 73. On this subject, see also Dana Polan, Jump Cut 17

8. This seems to be the case with Jean-Luc Godard (and films made with co-directors Jean-Pierre Gorin and Anne-Marie Mièville) since 1968 and also with the work of co-directors Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet. Latin American filmmakers such as Glauber Rocha have criticized such a cinema, made for already politically active viewers only, supposedly to educate them about the politics of film form. The lack of popular interest in avant-garde European Brechtian cinema has been held up as its main political and cinematic shortcoming, although the use of "radical form" is clearly important to filmmakers in Cuba today.

9. Willett, ed., p. 73. It should be mentioned here that Brecht specifically associated the active inclusion of the spectator with the use of theatrical tableaux and juxtaposition of disparate elements in the staging. In film theory, Elsenstein discussed at length how montage of disparate elements could specifically elicit political reflection on the part of the spectator. However, montage is not considered at all by García Espinosa in his theory of Imperfect Cinema.

10. LUCIA and MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT do seem to use foreign models and have also been major prize-winning films abroad. The extent to which they do or do not diverge from the foreign paradigm, or how they elicit a specifically political consideration on the part of the audience about foreign cultural forms, is a discussion of importance but one which remains outside the scope of the present discussion.

11. Cuban cinema since the Revolution has also been very interested in developments in political filmmaking elsewhere, particularly the work of French radical filmmakers Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard, Dutch documentarist Joris Ivens, and Italian neorealist Cesare Zavattini.

12. "El cine documental," in Porter, p. 119.